Unite Statement on BA Dispute

By Unite The Union, PRNE
Thursday, March 11, 2010

LONDON, March 12, 2010 - Unite Assistant General Secretary and lead negotiator with British
Airways Len McCluskey said today (Friday):

"The talks we have been conducting with British Airways over the entire
course of this year reached a conclusion this week.

"Regrettably, management turned down a remarkable offer from the union
which would have given the company everything it said it wanted while also
meeting our members' concerns.

"This offer gives the lie to the smears that these skilled and
professional employees are mindless militants indifferent to BA's
difficulties, or are defending a privileged position.

"The company contests our calculations, but quibbles over the precise
costing of our concessions pale into insignificance compared to the losses
that BA will sustain in the event of an industrial dispute.

"However, despite spurning this proposal, British Airways management
finally submitted a formal offer of its own to Unite yesterday. It is welcome
that the company acknowledges that negotiated agreement, not imposition, is
the only way to conduct mature industrial relations at BA.

"It is right that cabin crew should be given the opportunity to consider
this offer, although it falls short of what we believe is needed to address
the legitimate concerns they have about crew complement and service delivery.

"Unite will therefore hold a consultative ballot of our cabin crew
members to ascertain their view on the offer. We would anticipate getting the
result of this consultation by the middle of next week.

"However, we are unable to recommend the offer, and are therefore also
setting strike dates in accordance with the mandate the union has twice
overwhelmingly secured from our members.

"Strikes are planned for March 20, 21 and 22 and further on March 27, 28,
29 and 30. There will be no strikes over the Easter period, as we already
promised, but further industrial action will be called to take place after
April 14 if the dispute has not been resolved.

"The consultative ballot we are holding will be concluded before the
first day of industrial action is scheduled to take place. Should that ballot
show a majority in favour of the company's offer, then all the strike action
announced today will of course be cancelled.

"These have been very difficult negotiations - unnecessarily so, in my
view. I represent a workforce which has repeatedly made it clear that it is
proud of its company and prepared to make extraordinary sacrifices to see it
succeed. The customers they care for have always been at the forefront of
their concerns.

"But we have been faced with a management which at times has almost
seemed to want a dispute. Every time talks appeared to make progress, the
chief executive or another senior manager has popped up making public
statements designed to inflame the situation. This has led to the view that
BA management's real agenda is destroying trade unionism among its employees.

"Should our members accept the company offer, Unite stands willing to
work with British Airways to restore its industrial relations, its image and
its prospects, provided we have a willing partner on the management side.

"Should they turn the proposal down then, in the absence of a better
offer from the company before the dates I have announced for strike action,
Unite will stand four square behind our cabin crew members in their struggle
against industrial dictatorship, and we will call on the whole of the labour
movement at home and abroad to stand with us."

Further information: Andrew Murray on +44(0)777-3764455, Pauline Doyle on +44(0)797-6832861, Ciaran Naidoo on +44(0)776-8931315

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